Sheffield Tigers 11, Preston Grasshoppers 10: Narrow loss for Arnold's men

Preston Grasshoppers failed to make it back to back away wins after narrowly losing to Sheffield Tigers with the game played in high winds which reached 47mph.

Sunday, 12th January 2020, 11:49 am
Updated Sunday, 12th January 2020, 11:49 am
Match action from Preston Grasshoppers game at Sheffield Tigers. Photo: Francis Morris

Preston Grasshoppers failed to make it back to back away wins after narrowly losing to Sheffield Tigers with the game played in high winds which reached 47mph.

A low scoring affair ended with the Tigers winning 11-10 after both teams battled bravely against the elements.

Despite playing the first half into the wind, Hoppers started brightly with Sam Wallbank making a 20 metre break from within his own half in the opening minutes.

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However, it was the hosts who opened the scoring. Mark Ireland kicking a penalty from the half way line after Preston were penalised for collapsing a scrum.

The Tigers added to their lead with the first try of the match. A pick up at an attacking scrum saw William Wallace go over the whitewash in the 16th minute.

Hoppers defence was holding firm but ill discipline saw them concede another penalty. Mark Ireland made no mistake from the tee, extending the lead to 11-0.

Head Coach Paul Arnold made some tactical changes in the opening half that proved pivotal in keeping ball in hand and creating forward momentum for Grasshoppers. Tigers Lock, Anthony Symcox, was penalised and yellow carded for a high tackle on the hosts 22 metre line.

Within minutes of the incident another penalty gave Hoppers the opportunity of narrowing the deficit. Tom Davidson negotiated the difficult conditions with ease and made the half time score 11-3

With rain starting to fall and the wind ever present, the second half saw more breaks in the game due to handing errors on both parts. The stoppages favouring the hosts as they kept slowing down the momentum Hoppers were building.

Despite the lack of fluidity in the match, Preston were building pressure and deservedly made the breakthrough with a converted try in the 66th minute.

A big hit on a Tigers player by Sam Stott dislodged the ball and a beautifully weighted kick and chase by Jacob Browne resulted in the away side being awarded a 5 metre scrum. From the first phase after the scrum, Ally Murray scored in the corner and Davidson added the extras to cut the deficit to a point.

There only looked one winner and Hoppers had the chance to win it late on but a 45 metre attempt at goal went agonisingly wide.

With little time left on the clock, Tigers kept hold of the ball and edged to victory by the smallest of margins.

Even though Grasshoppers picked up a losing bonus point, they lost ground on their relegation rivals as Huddersfield, Luctonians and Wharfedale all won.